Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Granada

The Vega

By Magnus Sabiston

(From Granada)

MANY a league from end to end

That lovely vega doth extend;

Many a mile from side to side

Its fair expanse doth open wide,

Engirt by mountain walls that bound

The glorious landscape spread around,

Which, canopied by cloudless skies,

A scene of matchless beauty lies,

Where Nature hath with lavish hand

Strewed all the gifts at her command,

And fruits and flowers of every clime

Spontaneous revel in their prime,

And all around, below, above,

Seems formed for beauty, peace, and love.

Alas that ever ruthless war

So fair a spot of earth should mar,

Or that an Eden such as this

Should witness aught but scenes of bliss!

Here, where a thousand fragrant flowers

Adorn the shady, vine-clad bowers;

Here, where the nightingale’s soft note

Doth on the perfumed zephyr float,

And where the lover’s lute alone

Should breathe the only passion known.

Yet of the vega not a rood

But hath been drenched with Moorish blood,

Nor is there rock or height around

That hath not rung with battle’s sound.

The last of that heroic race

Here made their chosen dwelling-place,

And here, for centuries, defied

Their ancient foemen’s strength and pride.

Many and many a time again

Had Christians sought to reach that plain,

And found their utmost efforts vain;

And many a valiant man lay dead

Before their tents were on it spread.

But discord brought the unhappy hour

Deprived the Moslem arm of power;

The fatal issue, long forecast,

In common ruin came at last.